We should appreciate our stomachs more. Inside, our gut health determines a lot of things, from how we feel to how we look. Here is what you need to know about ensuring your gut health is taken care of, so it can take care of you.
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Did you know that the gut is called the “forgotten organ.” Generally when you think of organs, we tend to think of what gives us life, like the heart, lungs, brain and even the skin. But the gut is just as important. Imagine a world where we couldn’t finish this sentence: “Trust your ___.”
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The importance of gut health
The gut is an important organ, with very important functions, from digestion to the immune system, metabolism and even mental health. It houses the microbiome in the digestive tract. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: “A person’s core microbiome is formed in the first few years of life, but can change over time in response to different factors including diet, medications, and a variety of environmental exposures.”
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How to improve gut health naturally
This may surprise you, but you already know the best ways to take care of your gut health: A healthy lifestyle that includes eating a balanced diet (lots of fruit, veggies and fibre), getting enough sleep and exercise. But you can also do more to support the microbiome, including eating fermented foods (from sauerkraut to yogurt), high antioxidant foods (like blueberries and broccoli), as well as supplementing with probiotics.
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Signs of an unwell gut
According to researchers in China, an imbalance in bacteria has some very physical symptoms. Additionally, we don’t always instinctively think of gut health. Instead, we may write it off as a “bug” or even overeating, because the symptoms of an unwell gut include bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
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Your immune system depends on bacteria
While the science of how effective chicken soup actually is for a cold continues to be debated, it is clear that our intestines are responsible for much of how the immune system works. Antibodies are made in the gut, which is how we fight off illness and disease.
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Gut health and depression
Although depression is a mental health condition, it manifests in the body as well, affecting things like hormones and the nervous system. Some research does point to probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids helping gut health, which in turn may better set you up to treat depression (in other words, it could be part of a solution, even if not the whole solution).
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Fighting acne with probiotics
You might think eating chocolate and other sweets may be the cause of your blemishes. But it could be more complicated than that (you knew it would be). Because sugar affects the microbiome in a negative way, acne could be a biproduct of a gut imbalance. While you can treat spots, this Korean study suggests that you should also treat your gut.
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The unexpected side effects of a healthy gut
Weight loss. Research from the University of Copenhagen found that a lack of diverse bacteria in the intestines led to a high risk of obesity in study subjects, as well as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
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How to heal your gut
Fibre is key to healing the gut, shows a study from the research journal Nature. How does it work? Some fibre is known as a prebiotic, supporting an environment that is probiotic-friendly and helping your supplements survive and thrive.
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How to increase good bacteria in gut naturally
You already know that a healthy lifestyle has good impacts on gut health, along with key supplements and nutrients. But limiting foods that negatively affect the gut can help too: Sugar, alcohol, fried foods and the usual suspects. You know the drill. None of this is new information, but it’s nice to be reminded about the impact, right?